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Rivalry Week: What it means for…

Nick Saban AP

Rivalry Week is at once the best and worst of times for college football fans.

At its best, this extended weekend wrapped around the Thanksgiving holiday offers up a litany of games that mean something beyond conference or BCS implications, giving all fan bases something just as meaty and satisfying: bragging rights and pride, especially when it’s an in-state rival humbled in defeat on the opposing sideline.  At its worst, however, this weekend means that yet another college football season is quickly wrapping up, with just a handful of regular season games remaining to go along with conference championship games and bowls.

There are, though, the obvious implications beyond just bragging rights and pride.  Myriad implications, from conference races to BCS placement to the chase for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

So, with that as the backdrop, here’s a look at the marquee matchups for Week 14 and the potential implications the outcomes of the games could/would/should have on all fronts.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 4 Auburn
“The Mother of All Iron Bowls” indeed.  The stunning turnaround by Auburn under Gus Malzahn — from 3-9, 0-8 last season to 10-1, 6-1 in 2013 — has nearly overshadowed Alabama’s quest for three straight BCS titles and four in five years .  Who would’ve thought, prior to September, that this year’s version of the Iron Bowl would carry more conference and national weight than Alabama’s games against Texas A&M and LSU combined?  Certainly not anyone who doesn’t end their prayers with “War Damn Eagle!”  Speaking of a Higher Football Power, the last four Iron Bowl winners have gone on to win the BCS championship.

What it means for…
… the SEC: Everything, at least as far as the West is concerned.  It’s a winner-take-all battle, with the victor staking its claim to the divisional title and a spot in the conference championship game against either Missouri or South Carolina.  The Tide would earn a share of the divisional title even with a loss, although, obviously, the head-to-head tiebreaker would go to the Tigers with a win.
… the BCS: An Alabama win keeps the No. 1 Tide on its year-long inside track for one of the two spots in the BCS title game.  Even with a loss, Alabama would be a near-shoe-in for an at-large berth in a BCS bowl, although that wouldn’t be clarified until after the conference championship game.  The same could be said for Auburn, which would get serious consideration for an at-large bid despite an Iron Bowl loss.
… the Heisman: Thanks to the missteps of others in Week 13, AJ McCarron has suddenly vaulted into the No. 2 position behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston in the eyes of both the voters and the oddsmakers.  A strong performance on a national stage would most certainly keep the Tide quarterback toward the top of the conversation and, depending on how the Winston off-field situation plays out, could send him hurtling toward front-runner status.

No. 2 Florida State at Florida
To say that the Sunshine State rivalry has lost some luster for this year’s game would be an understatement.  While Florida State is more than holding up its end of the bargain — nationally-ranked and seemingly predestined for a shot at the crystal — Florida enters the game armed with an embattled head coach and a six-game losing streak that’s the program’s worst since 1979.  The Gators won last year in Tallahassee, although the Seminoles are four-touchdown favorites this year in The Swamp.  While his boss continues to back him, Will Muschamp directing an embarrassing blowout loss in Gainesville could force Jeremy Foley to reconsider that very strident public support.

What it means for…
… the ACC/SEC: Literally nothing for either conference.  FSU has already locked up the Atlantic division’s spot in the ACC championship game, while UF was long ago eliminated from SEC East contention.
… the BCS: For a team that’s outscored its opponents 402-65 the past seven games, this game would appear to be nothing more than a worn-down speed bump on its inexorable march to the BCS title game.  Seemingly the only thing standing between the Seminoles and an early-January date in the Rose Bowl is a win over the Gators as well as an ACC championship game in which they will be prohibitive favorites regardless of which team comes out of the Coastal.
… the Heisman: For Jameis Winston, the Heisman is his for the taking — provided he doesn’t trip over himself the next two weeks and, more importantly, the investigation into an alleged sexual assault doesn’t give him bigger things to worry about than a fumbled trophy.

No. 3 Ohio State at Michigan
Michigan has stumbled through a disappointing season with a 7-4 record that could easily be sub-.500 were it not for a couple of escapes against vastly inferior opponents.  At the other end of the spectrum is Ohio State, riding a nation’s best 23-game winning streak.  In fact, the Buckeyes set a school record last weekend, surpassing the 22-game streak of the 1967-69 squads.  The team that snapped the previous mark?  The 7-2 Wolverines in Ann Arbor, of course.  When it comes to The Game, you just never ever know  – especially when a heavy home underdog is involved.

What it means for…
… the Big Ten: As is the case for the game above this one, absolutely nothing.  Not only have the Buckeyes already clinched the Leaders division, they also already know they will face Legends winner Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game next weekend in Indianapolis.  Thanks to NCAA sanctions last year, OSU will be making its first-ever appearance in the conference title game.
… the BCS: If Ohio State has any shot at a BCS title, they have to hope either Alabama or Florida State loses once the next two weekends.  Outside of the crystal title game, they could also earn an automatic BCS bowl bid with two more wins, or perhaps an at-large bid with a loss in the Big Ten title game.  Either way, their BCS future won’t be decided until next weekend, although it could certainly take a significant at-large hit with a loss this weekend.
… the Heisman: When it comes to the Buckeyes and stiff-armed talk, “what if” is certainly in play.  Braxton Miller entered the 2013 season as the Heisman front-runner, but an injury that cost him a pair of September games knocked him completely off the radar.  Thanks to the stumbles of others, the quarterback is back on at least the periphery of the discussion, although it would take something monumental to once again make the junior a serious contender.  Perhaps Carlos Hyde, he of the three-game suspension to start the year, could make a late push?  Doubtful, but, as the last couple of weeks have shown, anything is possible when it comes to the most prestigious award in college football.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina
Stated simply, South Carolina has owned this rivalry of late with wins each of the past four years, with none coming by less than 10 points.  Steve Spurrier has Dabo Swinney‘s number and is not shy about letting people know about it, which is part and parcel of why this is such a tremendous non-conference rivalry.

What it means for…
… the ACC/SEC: Clemson’s chances at an Atlantic division title went down in flames in the midst of a 37-point beatdown at the hands of Florida State in mid-October.  If Missouri loses to Texas A&M, South Carolina will represent the East in the SEC championship game.
… the BCS: The Gamecocks’ lone opportunity for a BCS bowl rests in securing the SEC’s automatic bid via a conference championship.  If Florida State does indeed make the BCS title game, the Tigers are primed to replace the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl and insert the 70-33 jokes here.
… the Heisman: You would think that Tajh Boyd would be in the thick of the Heisman conversation.  The Clemson quarterback’s not, and I don’t have a clue as to why.

No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 8 Stanford
While it’s hardly on par with Notre Dame-USC, Notre Dame-Stanford has evolved into quite the entertaining rivalry the past several years.  Of the past nine games played, six have been decided by eight points or less.  The Irish own a 6-3 edge during that span, including an overtime win in South Bend last season en route to the BCS championship game.

What it means for…
… the Pac-12: The North division’s game of hot potato continued — and ultimately ended — last week thanks to Oregon’s lopsided loss to Arizona, handing the division title and a spot in the conference title game to Stanford.  The Cardinal will (likely) travel a week later to South winner Arizona State for a game that will decide the league’s automatic BCS berth.  If the Sun Devils lose to the same Wildcats that dumped the Ducks, the Cardinal would play host.
… the BCS: The Irish have no chance to move into the top-14 of the final BCS rankings necessary to qualify them for an at-large BCS bid.  If the Cardinal entertain any hope of qualifying for a fourth straight BCS bowl, they will need to win the conference; a third loss, whether it be this week or next, would effectively eliminate them from at-large contention.

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 5 Missouri
One year after Texas A&M exploded onto the SEC scene in wildly-entertaining fashion, the Aggies have been reduced to playing the role of spoiler to a fellow former Big 12 member.  Playing the role of 2012 A&M is Missouri, which enters Week 14 with something the Aggies of a year ago didn’t: an opportunity to claim its first SEC divisional crown.

What it means for…
… the SEC: The conference scenario for Mizzou is very simple and straightforward.  Win, and the Tigers are in the SEC championship game as the East’s representative.  Lose and they’re out, replaced by South Carolina.
… the BCS: With three losses on their current résumé, there’s no need to use “A&M” and “BCS bowl” in the same sentence, unless it’s separated by “won’t be in a.”  Just as it was for its conference scenario, Mizzou’s BCS dreams are very simple and straightforward: win this weekend… win next weekend… and they’re in as the SEC’s automatic bid.  Lose at any point the next two weeks, and the Tigers will (very likely) be sitting outside the BCS window looking in.
… the Heisman: Johnny Manziel made significant repeat strides in the eyes of those who passionately follow the Heisman the last several weeks before a damaging performance against LSU seemingly knocked him out of contention.  Of course, based on how the stiff-armed landscape has drastically shifted the past couple of weeks, a resurgent performance against a high-quality opponent could put the reigning Heisman winner right back in the conversation.

Texas Tech at Texas
No. 9 Baylor at TCU
The most interesting aspect of this pair of games is how Baylor responds to an embarrassing and devastating loss.  In firm control of the Big 12 race entering Week 13 and with a BCS title game appearance a possibility, the Bears’ loss to Oklahoma State all but ruined what was a once-promising season.  A loss to the Cowboys the previous week, oddly enough, also cost Texas control of its own destiny in the conference.

What it means for…
… the Big 12: Here are the scenarios for each of the one-loss teams currently tied atop the Big 12 standings and what they need to happen to claim the conference crown.

  • Oklahoma State: a win over Oklahoma in Bedlam Dec. 7 coming off a bye week, regardless of what Baylor or Texas do and based on head-to-head wins over both.
  • Baylor: an OSU loss, plus wins over TCU and Texas.
  • Texas: an OSU loss, plus wins over Texas Tech and Baylor.

… the BCS: For both Baylor and Texas, their BCS bowl odds are long.  Each needs an Oklahoma State loss in order to claim the Big 12′s automatic berth as neither will be in play for an at-large bid, although there’s an asterisk when it comes to that absolute –there are a couple of scenarios that could get BU in as an at-large, although they are longshots at best and pipe dreams at worst.

No. 24 Duke at North Carolina
Will the shoe fit, or will the clock strike midnight on Duke’s Cinderella season?  The Blue Devils are in the midst of a historic campaign, with nine wins tying the school record set in 1941 and the opportunity to reach double digits for the first time since the program began playing football back in 1922.  They’ve qualified for a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever.  Simply put, Duke is one of the best stories of the 2013 season.  Whether the Blue Devils cap their fairy-tale story with a divisional crown remains to be seen.

What it means for…
… the ACC: If Duke beats North Carolina, which has won five straight after beginning the season 1-5, the Blue Devils will stake their claim to their first-ever ACC Coastal title.  If not?  A five-way tie between Duke (5-2), Virginia Tech (4-3), Miami (4-3), Georgia Tech (5-3) and North Carolina (4-3) is a possibility, although only the first four remain alive in the divisional race.  So, if Duke loses and all Coastal hell breaks loose, here’s what each team would need in order to secure the spot as Florida State’s sacrificial lamb in the ACC championship game.

  • Duke: a win over North Carolina; cannot win the division with a loss.
  • Virginia Tech: a Duke loss, plus a win over Virginia.
  • Miami: a Duke loss, a Virginia Tech loss, plus a win over Pittsburgh.
  • Georgia Tech (ACC slate complete): a Duke loss, a Virginia Tech loss, a Miami loss.

… the BCS: Whichever team survives the Coastal chaos and represents the division in the division in the ACC championship technically has an opportunity to secure an automatic BCS bid.  Realistically, none of the four teams with a chance to win the Coastal has any type of shot at upsetting the Seminoles in Charlotte.

USF at No. 19 UCF
How little respect does UCF get?  The Knights, whose lone loss on the season came by three points to No. 10 South Carolina, are ranked by the coaches three spots behind a one-loss Louisville team that UCF beat on the road.  Obviously the lack of respect for the AAC as a whole is playing a significant role, but it doesn’t change the fact that George O’Leary‘s squad deserves better treatment in the polls than what they’ve been getting.

What it means for…
… the AAC: A win by UCF pushes its conference record to 7-0 and clinches the AAC regardless of what the Knights do a week later against SMU.  Louisville’s conference title hopes remain alive but on life support, with the Cardinals needing two UCF losses as well as a win of their own Dec. 5 at Cincinnati.
… the BCS: The AAC receives an automatic BCS bid, so a conference crown for UCF also means a guaranteed spot at the BCS table, with the chair likely coming in the Sugar Bowl against an SEC foe.

No. 16 Fresno State at San Jose State
This game is all about the scenarios and possibilities, which appear below.

What it means for…
… the MWC: Fresno State has already clinched the West and will represent that division in the MWC championship game.  The Bulldogs will face Utah State for the league title if the Aggies beat Wyoming Saturday, Boise State — based on the head-to-head tiebreaker with USU — if the Broncos beat New Mexico and the Aggies lose.
… the BCS: If Fresno State can win out, they will battle Northern Illinois for what should be the lone BCS bowl berth for a non-automatic qualifying conference member.  In order for a non-AQ to qualify for an at-large bid, it needs to finish in the top-16 of the final BCS rankings and ahead of the lowest-ranked AQ conference winner (No. 19 UCF in this case); the Huskies leapfrogged the Bulldogs in last week’s rankings and are now at No. 14, while Fresno sits at No. 16.  Whichever of those two teams finish ranked higher in the final BCS standings, provided it’s in the top-16 and ahead of (presumably) UCF, will grab the non-AQ berth and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
… the Heisman: Derek Carr is one of the most prolific passers in the country, ranking first in total offense and passing touchdowns and second in passing yards.  Up until this week, however, he’s barely been a part of the Heisman discussion.  Thanks to the shortcomings of others he’s now in the mix, although it should never have taken others tripping up for that to happen.

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‘Personal reasons’ cost Wyoming another player

Nico Brown

With spring practices across the country ending, so too are the careers of some players at those particular schools as transfer season is once again in full swing.

One of the latest to suffer a bit of a personnel hit is Wyoming, which announced Tuesday that Nico Brown – not to be confused with New Jack City‘s Nino Brown — has decided to leave the Cowboys football program.  The ubiquitous “personal reasons” was given for the departure.

The 6-3, 212-pound Brown was listed No. 3 on a mid-April depth chart released by new head coach Craig Bohl, which could be a significant part of the “personal reasons” given by the school.

After redshirting as a two-star true freshman in 2012, Brown played in eight games in 2013.  He did not catch any passes last season, although he appeared in line for additional playing time in 2014 before his abrupt decision to leave.

Brown becomes the fourth Cowboy to leave the program the past month, joining a pair of offensive tackles — senior Walker Madden and redshirt freshman Connor Riese — and junior linebacker Devin McKenna. The departures of Madden and McKenna were announced earlier this month.

(Photo credit: Wyoming athletics)

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Wake losing likely D-line starter to transfer

Jacob Coker, James Looney AP

Yep, another transfer.

While this one’s not yet officially official, West Virginia radio personality Dave Weekley tweeted Tuesday afternoon that defensive lineman James Looney has decided to leave Wake Forest.  ACCSports.com is reporting the same, although it’s behind the dreaded paywall HERE.

Even as Wake has yet to publicly address Looney’s status, his name is no longer listed on the team’s official online roster.

Last season as a true freshman, Looney, the younger brother of former Wake and current San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Joe Looney, played in seven games.  Because of the departures of three starters, Looney was viewed as a likely starter along the Demon Deacons’ defensive line.

However, SBNation.com wrote that Looney “had not been at practices or scrimmages as of late.”

Coming out of high school in Lake Worth, Fla., Looney was a three-star member of Wake’s 2013 recruiting class.  According to Weekley, Looney had offers from, among others, Marshall, Minnesota, USF and West Virginia before signing with the Demon Deacons.

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LaTech QB Scotty Young puts an end to playing career

Louisiana Tech v North Carolina State

On Louisiana Tech’s post-spring depth chart, Scotty Young was listed as the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Ryan Higgins.  Less than two weeks later, the Bulldogs will officially have a new backup quarterback when summer camp commences in August.

In a surprising press release sent out Tuesday evening, Young announced in a statement that he has decided to bring his playing career to an end.  Young, who would’ve been a redshirt senior in 2014 will graduate in the coming months and has decided it’s time to begin the next phase his life.

In mid-March, quarterback Cody Sokol transferred from Iowa to Tech and has immediate eligibility; it’s unclear if Sokol’s addition to the roster hastened Young’s life decision.

“I am graduating this summer and am ready to move on to the next chapter of my life,” Young said of his decision. “Football has been a really good journey but sometimes you have to know when to end it. I have loved the experience and will cherish these memories forever. I want to thank the old staff for allowing me the opportunity to come to Louisiana Tech and I want to thank Coach Holtz and his staff for giving me the opportunity to stay here and earn my degree. It has been a great experience for me, one in which I have enjoyed every moment of.”

Last season, Young started six games for the Bulldogs. He completed 87-of-165 passes for 733 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Young transferred to Tech in June of 2012 after spending the previous two seasons at Texas Tech but not playing. He was forced to sit out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

A four-star member of the Red Raiders’ 2010 recruiting class, Young was the No. 10 pro-style QB coming out of high school in Denton, Tex.

“I want to thank Scotty for his time here,” Bulldogs head coach Skip Holtz said in a statement. “He was a selfless player during his tenure and I am happy he will be able to obtain his degree from Louisiana Tech in only four years in college. He was a model student-athlete and representative of our program and I wish him the best of luck. Scotty will be another one of our great alumni, adding to the thousands of great alumni this University has produced.”

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Louisville to pay Todd Grantham nearly $1 million in 2014

Todd Grantham

Prying a defensive coordinator away from an SEC football program didn’t come cheap for Louisville.

By way of a public records request, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Monday that new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will earn $975,000 in 2014.  As Georgia’s coordinator in 2013, Grantham pulled in$850,000.

In mid-January, it was officially announced that Grantham would be a part of Bobby Petrino’s second first staff with the Cardinals.

Last season, Grantham was fifth among all FBS assistant coaches in total pay; his UofL salary would’ve put him fourth.  This year, however, he will be the sixth-highest paid, at best.  After earning $600,000 in 2013, LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron‘s pay jumps to $1.3 million in 2014 and then $1.5 million in 2015.  Additionally, new Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is expected to exceed $1 million in annual pay when the details of his three-year contract are released later this offseason.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, for those interested, was the highest-paid assistant last season at $1.3 million.  Alabama’s Kirby Smart at just a shade over $1.15 million was the highest-paid defensive coordinator.

One final note from the Courier-Journal: Petrino’s two coordinators — Grantham and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee  – will make $1.625 million; Charlie Strong‘s coordinators made just over $1 million in his last season with the Cardinals before leaving for the Texas job.

(Tip O the Cap: the Athens Banner-Herald’s Marc Weiszer)

(Photo credit: Louisville athletics)

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2014 Tulane early enrollee Teddy Veal charged with rape

Niguel Veal

For the second time today, a player at an FBS program has been charged with sexually assaulting a female.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Tulane wide receiver Teddy Veal was arrested early this morning and charged with one count of simple rape.  The 17-year-old Veal — he will be 18 next month — is being held in the Orleans Parish Prison in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

The alleged sexual assault occurred April 14, with the police account below of what led to the arrest and charge:

According to New Orleans police, the alleged victim was introduced by a female she knew to Veal and another man. The alleged victim began drinking and then went back to the men’s dorm room in the 6800 block of St. Charles Avenue to watch a movie.

The victim told police that while at the dorm, she had consensual sex with one of the men and then went to sleep. When she woke up she was sexually assaulted by Veal, police said.

Veal was a member of Tulane’s most recent signing class and was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.  Not so unexpectedly, the school announced this evening that Neal has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“Federal law prohibits the university from disclosing any disciplinary action taken against a student regarding his or her enrollment in the university,” a portion of a statement from the school read.

Veal was the highest-rated player in the Green Wave’s 2014 recruiting class, and was expected to see significant playing time immediately. He is the younger brother of Alabama wide receiver Raheem Falkins, and his Tulane bio lists his legal guardian as “former LSU football standout Shrone Carey.”

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Greg McElroy taps Auburn as SEC favorite

Greg McElroy Nick Saban AP

When it was announced that Greg McElroy would be taking on the role of analyst on the fledgling SEC Network, there were some — including Auburn fans — wondering how unbiased (or biased) the former Alabama quarterback could and would be.

At first blush, it doesn’t appear bias will be an issue for McElroy.

During a radio interview Tuesday, McElroy was asked about the SEC West race in 2014.  Not so surprisingly, McElroy went with one of the teams that played for the final BCS title — and is the most bitter of his alma mater’s rivals — as his favorite to come out of the West.

“Once quarterback situations are established at LSU, at Alabama — and Ole Miss is also kind of a scary team out in the West as well,” McElroy said. “Bo Wallace comes back and some of the things they were able to do. The West is wide open and it’s difficult, but I definitely think the Auburn Tigers are the favorite.”

McElroy makes solid points when it comes to the quarterback situations at the two schools that should serve as the Tigers’ chief competition in 2014 and, yes, I’m dismissing Ole Miss. Both Alabama and LSU are replacing veteran starters, three-year starter AJ McCarron for the former and two-year starter Zach Mettenberger for the latter. On the flip side, Auburn returns its starter, Nick Marshall — the first time, incidentally, Gus Malzahn has returned the same starter from the season before during his nine years as a coordinator or head coach at the FBS level.

In fact, Malzahn being on The Plains factors significantly in McElroy’s pick for SEC West frontrunner.

“I think he’s the most innovative play-caller in college football,” McElroy said of Malzahn. “I think he’s a tremendous football coach and he’s had a lot of success over the course of his career and what they did last year was really special, so I think they are the frontrunners without question at this point.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)

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Report: ex-Tide lineman expected to join Buckeyes

Alabama v Auburn Getty Images

It appears that, the way it have on the field the past decade, Ohio State is going to get over on bitter rival Michigan on the transfer front as well.

Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com tweeted Tuesday afternoon that offensive lineman Chad Lindsay has decided to transfer to Ohio State and continue his playing career with the Buckeyes.  OSU, obviously, has yet to officially confirm Lindsay’s addition to the roster, although that could happen by week’s end.

In mid-March, it was announced that Lindsay would be leaving the Tide and playing his final season of college ball elsewhere.  As Lindsay will be a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2014.

Michigan was reportedly the favorite to land Lindsay from the get-go — UA’s offensive coordinator a year ago, Doug Nussmeier, left for the same job with the Wolverines — although both Louisville and Oklahoma were a part of the transfer discussion as well.

Lindsay’s addition would give the Buckeyes an experienced option in the middle of a revamped offensive line that will see four new starters in 2014. In place of injured starter Ryan Kelly, Lindsay started four games at center in 2013 for Nick Saban‘s Tide. A three-star member of the Tide’s 2010 recruiting class coming out of high school in The Woodlands, Tex., Lindsay was rated as the No. 30 guard in the country that year.

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Charlie Strong: Texas ‘will not be in the national championship game’ this season

Charlie Strong AP

Memo to Longhorn Nation: do not book flights to Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex or reserve hotel rooms in that area for the time around Jan. 12, 2015; you’re head coach says your team won’t be there.

While not exactly a statement that goes against conventional wisdom when it comes to the 2014 college football season, Charlie Strong surprised some observers Monday when he talked about expectations for his first season at Texas.  Or, more to the point, he significantly lowered the first-year expectations of the media and fans alike.

We have everything available, and I don’t know why we can’t be successful,” Strong said while speaking to fans on his tour of Fort Worth. “There’s no reason for us not to be. Now, I can’t tell you how soon it’s going to be. Don’t hold me to that. Don’t say, ‘Ooh, coach said next year we’ll be in the national…’ We will not be in the national championship game.”

While some will criticize Strong for a defeatist attitude, others — myself included — will applaud the first-year UT coach for injecting some reality into a fan base that ofttimes suffers delusions of grandeur.

The Longhorns haven’t been a factor nationally since the 2009 season.  The past four years, they’ve sported a 30-21 record and earned three postseason berths — two to the Alamo Bowl, one to the Holiday Bowl.  While they played for a Big 12 title the final day of the regular season, that had more to do with other conference teams stumbling.

In other words, UT has a tough row to hoe to get back to where they belong nationally — especially with an unsettled quarterback position heading into his inaugural season in Austin.  Good on Strong — not an overwhelmingly popular hire to begin with — for shooting straight with his new fan base and not blowing the kind of rectal sunshine for which most coaches are infamous.

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Lobo RB Crusoe Gongbay facing rape, kidnapping charges

Crusoe Gongbay AP

As you can tell from the headline, a prominent member of the New mexico football program is facing some very serious charges, the Albuquerque Journal is reporting.

According to the paper, running back Crusoe Gongbay and another 21-year-old suspect — a non-UNM student —  have been charged with two counts each of second-degree criminal sexual penetration and one count each of kidnapping.  The 20-year-old Gongbay turned himself in to campus police on the charges.

A third suspect is being sought in connection to the incident.  Gongbay is currently jailed in lieu a $50, 000, while the second suspect is being held on a $100,000 bond.

The incident that led to the charges allegedly occurred the weekend before last.  From KOB-TV:

According to investigators, during the early hours of Sunday April 13, a female student reported to a Community Assistant at her dorm that she was the victim of a criminal sexual penetration. UNM Police transported the student to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Unit, where evidence was collected.

Because of the serious nature of the charges Gongbay is facing, the junior has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“We are aware of the allegations involving Crusoe Gongbay” head coach Bob Davie said in a statement released by the school. “Once this process is complete and all the details have emerged, we will handle the outcome appropriately. As this is an ongoing situation, we will not be able to comment any further at this time.”

Last season, Gongbay was third on the team in rushing yards (592) and rushing touchdowns (six).  Gongbay is — or at least was — expected to be the Lobos’ starting running back.

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Big Ten Network to kick off prime-time slate at Rutgers

Big Ten Logo

The Big Ten Network will televise six prime-time games this season, beginning on Sept. 13 with Penn State at Rutgers — the Scarlet Knights’ Big Ten opener. And that’s not the only prime-time slot Rutgers will have on the Big Ten Network in 2014: They’ll kick off a home game against Michigan at 7 EST on Oct. 4, too.

Fellow newcomer Maryland gets a prime-time Big Ten Network game, too, hosting defending conference champions Michigan State on Nov. 15.

The full Big Ten Network prime-time slate:

Sept. 13, 8 ET: Penn State at Rutgers

Sept. 26, 6 ET: Cincinnati at Ohio State

Sept. 26, 9 ET: Illinois at Nebraska

Oct. 4, 7 ET: Michigan at Rutgers

Oct. 18, 7:30 ET: Nebraska at Northwestern

Nov, 15, 8 ET: Michigan State at Rutgers

 

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Indiana pays $750,000 to swap USF for FIU in 2015, 2016

Minnesota v Indiana Getty Images

Indiana, looking to make its 2015 non-conference schedule easier, paid $750,000 to cancel a home-and-home with USF and replace that series with a home-and-home against Florida International (via the Indianapolis Star).

The main goal for Indiana was to get seven home games in 2015 — the Hoosiers already have a game scheduled at Wake Forest that year, and draw Penn State and Michigan State away as part of their Big Ten schedule. Indiana will travel to Miami to play FIU in 2016.

The move came at a cost — Indiana paid the AAC $500,000 ($250,000 for each game) to cancel the USF series, and will send $1 million to FIU for the 2015 game. Indiana AD Fred Glass told the Star he expects about $550,000 in additional revenue from a seventh home game in 2015, and the Hoosiers will get $200,000 from FIU for the 2016 game, thus calculating out to that $750,000 net price tag.

That’s a lot of money, it would seem to, to trade a bad team for a really bad team on the schedule. USF finished 99 in 2013′s F/+ rankings, while FIU finished dead last at 125.

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ESPN debuts ads for SEC Network that’ll make you miss college football

SEC Network Logo

We’re about to enter the four-month barren wasteland for college football known as summer, so the timing of these 30-second spots by ESPN promoting the SEC Network is a little cruel. But these “Take It All In” ads should help you get through the warm, football-less landscape of the next few months.

(For whatever reason, these aren’t embeddable.)

Alabama

Arkansas

Auburn

Florida

Georgia

Kentucky (Surprise! It’s the only one that involves college basketball. Though Alabama’s had a kid playing basketball in it.)

LSU

Mississippi State (Baseball! I’m partial to this one.)

Mizzou

Ole Miss

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas A&M

Vanderbilt (Another basketball one.)

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Mike Slive: College players shouldn’t be employees, but…

Mike Slive AP

SEC commissioner Mike Slive continues to push for greater autonomy for the “big five” conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — and while he doesn’t agree with the unionization efforts at Northwestern he ultimately does see changes coming in the near future.

Slive spoke at an APSE regional meeting in Alabama on Tuesday and had this to say, among other topics:

“Student-athletes shouldn’t be employees. If you put that aside, what’s being asked for (by union backers) are the same things the five of us put forward last fall. What’s the substance of the issue, not the nature. What we are trying to accomplish are these issues.”

With the five power conference having the autonomy to compensate players in a way that non-power conferences cannot (since the money’s not there), perhaps it would mitigate the most common complaint from current and former players. That complaint: With all the money that’s being thrown around, why aren’t we seeing any of it?

Slive emphasized whatever compensation plan is drawn up would be “in the context of higher education” — so if it passes, “student-athlete” will still be a thing going forward. Slive said expects something to materialize here by August.

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Former four-star lineman likely leaving Ole Miss

2013 Football Freshman Headshots

In a positional grouping that can ill afford it, Ole Miss has seen its depth along the offensive line take yet another hit.

Austin Golson, Rivals.com first reported Monday morning, has decided to leave the Rebels football program.  While initially stating that the player “is going to look into his options. Nothing has been decided,” head coach Hugh Freeze subsequently confirmed that Golson is leaving the Rebels.

There appears to be some miscommunication between the two parties as Golson later told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger he hasn’t decided one way or the other.

“My family comes before football,” Golson said. “There hasn’t been a definite decision.”

Golson has two grandparents with health concerns, the coach said, and is looking at a transfer closer to his home in Prattville, Ala.

As a true freshman last season, Golson, a four-star 2013 recruit rated as the No. 9 tackle in the country, played in 12 games, mainly at the guard position.  He was viewed as the likely starter at right tackle exiting spring.

Auburn and Alabama were considerations for Golson before signing with Ole Miss in February of last year.

With Golson’s departure, if it comes to fruition, the Rebels have now seen seven linemen, including three starters, from a year ago leave the program for various reasons.

(Photo credit: Ole Miss athletics)

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QB Trent Hosick transferring out of Mizzou

Mizzou Football Media Day

With Maty Mauk firmly entrenched as Missouri’s starting quarterback, Trent Hosick was hoping to be in a position to claim the backup job.  With Mizzou done with spring practice, and Hosick not even in position for the No. 2 job, the player has decided to cut his losses at the school.

A school spokesperson confirmed to both the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Hosick has left the team and will look to transfer to another football program.

While no reason for the transfer was explicitly stated, Hosick exited the 15 spring sessions No. 4 in Mizzou’s quarterback pecking order.  During the Tigers’ spring game over the weekend, junior Corbin Berkstresser and redshirt freshman Eddie Printz split the reps with the No. 2 offense while Hosick remained on the sidelines until after halftime.

Hosick was a three-star member of Mizzou’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 19 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Missouri.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

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